The Museum of the Bible opened on Friday, Nov. 17 in the old Washington Design Center building. The $500 million museum’s stated goal is to trace the history and extensive influence of the Bible. The repurposed building, located at 4th and D Streets SW, used to be a refrigerated warehouse in the 1920s and contains excellent views of the Capitol and the National Mall.
The museum is majority funded by conservative evangelical Christian Steve Green and his family, of the Hobby Lobby craft store chain. According to interviews, Green says the aim is to educate, not evangelize, but skeptics call the project a Christian ministry disguised as a museum. Others question the ethical basis for the museums artifacts after a Vice News investigative piece showed many pieces were possibly bought from the Islamic State group. Earlier this year, Green and his family paid a $3 million fine after federal prosecutors say he was caught up in an antiquities smuggling ring.
The museum is expected to bring between one and three million new visitors to Southwest annually, on par with the most trafficked museum in the United States, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (also in Southwest).